Rob Bell’s ‘Tebow Bill’ passed in House of Delegates, 57-41

Rob Bell 3By Lynn R. Mitchell

Delegate Rob Bell (R-58 Charlottesville) saw his House Bill 1626, also known as the “Tebow Bill,” passed the Virginia House of Delegates on Thursday by a vote of 57-41. That’s good news, but previous bills have made it this far only to die in the State Senate.

From Delegate Bell:

Today the Tebow Bill passed the House by a vote of 57-41.  This vote was especially rewarding, since it occurred — by happenstance — on the Home Educators Association of Virginia’s annual Day at the Capitol.  Thanks to all the homeschoolers in and around the capitol today.

As its next step, the bill will be heard by the Senate Committee on Education and Health, where it was defeated the last three years.  We are more optimistic than in the past because of changes in the committee.

The committee meets on Thursdays, at 8:30 a.m. Senate Room B.  As soon as we have the actual date, we’ll share it so that you can attend.

For the tenth year, Delegate Rob Bell (R-58 Charlottesville) has submitted House Bill 1626, also known as the “Tebow Bill,” that would allow homeschoolers to participate in activities and sports at their local high schools.

Delegate Bell expressed optimism that the bill will fare better this year with the state senate in Republican hands. However, in 2012 with Republicans in control of House, Senate, and Governor with the best chance in seven years for passage, Republican Senator Harry Blevins, a retired public school principal, voted with the Democrats against the Tebow Bill, defeating it. Blevins retired from the state senate in 2013. This year Republicans control the House and Senate but not Governor.

The bill will first go before House Subcommittee for Elementary and Secondary Education, which meets Wednesday mornings directly after the full Education Committee meeting which begins at 8:30 a.m.

The bill is named for 27-year-old Tim Tebow who quarterbacked for the Denver Broncos and New York Jets. While homeschooled in Florida, he was allowed to play with the local public high school football team and went on to become a star player leading the University of Florida to championships and winning the Heisman Trophy in 2007. Today he is a sportscaster, is known for his philanthropic work, and heads up the Tim Tebow Foundation (see Tim Tebow will provide Valentine’s Day special needs proms across nation).

More details of the bill are provided below:

HB 1616: Students receiving home instruction; participation in interscholastic programs. Permits each local school board to deem eligible for participation in interscholastic programs, notwithstanding any bylaw, rule, regulation, or policy of any organization that currently organizes and governs interscholastic programs among the public high schools, any student who (i) is receiving home instruction; (ii) has demonstrated evidence of progress for two consecutive academic years; (iii) is in compliance with immunization requirements; (iv) is entitled to free tuition in a public school; (v) has not reached the age of 19 by August 1 of the current academic year; (vi) is an amateur who receives no compensation but participates solely for the educational, physical, mental, and social benefits of the activity; (vii) complies with all disciplinary rules and is subject to all codes of conduct applicable to all public high school athletes; and (viii) complies with all other rules governing awards, all-star games, maximum consecutive semesters of high school enrollment, parental consents, physical examinations, and transfers applicable to all high school athletes. The bill allows such students to be charged reasonable fees for participation.

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